$107.5 million for eight innovative research projects led by McGill

The Government of Canada makes major investment in research infrastructure through the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Innovation Fund competition
CFI-IF funding supports the purchase of cutting edge research infrastructure, such as this mobile benchtop X-ray diffractometer (XRD) Olivier Blouin

Today at the Université de Montréal, the Honourable Pablo Rodriguez, Minister of Transport and Quebec Lieutenant, on behalf of the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, and the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, announced the results of the Canada Foundation for Innovation’s (CFI) Innovation Fund (IF) 2023 competition.

Nationally, the CFI is investing $515.3 million in research infrastructure in support of 100 projects at 32 Canadian institutions. The announcement was part of a suite of national science and research investments, including new and renewed Canada Research Chair appointments, and NSERC Alliance grants.

McGill and its research hospitals were awarded $42.4 million through the CFI IF in support of eight projects led by McGill researchers that involve partner institutions. The Government of Quebec and partners provide additional funding, bringing the total research infrastructure investment to $107.5 million. In addition, CFI provides $13 million for operations and maintenance of the infrastructure. McGill researchers are also involved in seven projects led by another institutions.

“McGill thanks the governments of Canada and Québec, and the Canada Foundation for Innovation for these significant investments in technology and research capacity at McGill,” said Martha Crago Vice-President, Research and Innovation. “This funding supports transformative research programs that will make a positive impact on society. For example, by developing new preventative strategies and therapies for cancer, and by training the next generation of world-class scientists in advanced green chemical manufacturing.”

Transformative CFI-funded research

With the support of the CFI-IF, McGill’s Thomas Brunner of the Department of Physics will contribute to the international endeavor to build the nEXO experiment, which will search for a special type of radioactive decay in which only matter particles are created but no anti-matter. This research will take place at SNOLAB, which is known as the cleanest underground lab in the world, in Sudbury, Ontario. Such decay is not foreseen in the “Standard Model” that describes all observed particles, their properties, and the way they interact with each other. Its discovery would advance understanding of the origin and evolution of our Universe.

Also, among the funded projects is that led by professors Bruce Arndtsen and Karine Auclair of the Department of Chemistry, which will use CFI-funded infrastructure to produce key chemicals that are environmentally friendly and, through reactions adapted to function with renewable energy, are ready for modern industrial production. Ten international leaders and emerging researchers in chemistry, chemical engineering, and bioengineering, including six Canada Research Chairs, will form the project team. The innovative instrumentation funded by the CFI will be housed in one facility focused on sustainable synthesis, a first-of-its-kind entity in Canada.

“The release of chemicals into the environment, and their impact on climate, has become one of the most compelling societal and political issues of our time, and chemical manufacturing is a major contributor to this challenge,” says Arndtsen. “Adapting our chemical manufacturing to cleaner methods is essential for their short- and long-term viability.”

“This facility will better equip us to combine efforts and identify modern strategies to reduce pollution and slow climate change,” says Auclair. We look forward to working together with partners across Canada to ensure a better future for all.”

Tackling child and youth trauma

The CFI is also supporting the Child & Youth Trauma Research Incubator (ThRIve), spearheaded by Delphine Collin-Vézina, professor in the School of Social Work and Director of the Centre for Research on Children and Families.

“The question our research team is asking is, how can community-based research improve practice and policy for vulnerable, trauma-affected children and youth in Canada?” The answer posed by The Child & Youth Trauma Research Incubator (ThRIve) is to build spaces for those experiencing the impacts of child and youth trauma to not only be participants, but to shape research itself,” says Collin-Vézina.

She will work together with collaborators and partner universities to establish a network of access points for meaningful community-based research. These access points will be stationed in eight universities and across four provinces. Remote areas will be able to access a virtual lab. ThRIve will invite survivors of child and youth trauma to collaborate and lead research efforts, an alternative approach to traditional field research. “The knowledge gathered through these collaborative efforts has the potential to benefit families raising children, professionals serving children, and youth of equity deserving groups,” adds Collin-Vézina.

McGill-led CFI-funded projects:

  • Next Generation Sustainable Chemicals and Processes
    Research team lead and co-lead: Bruce Arndtsen and Karine Auclair, Faculty of Science
  • High Throughput Manufacturing of Powdered Materials (HTMPM)
    Research team lead and co-lead: Mathieu Brochu, Faculty of Engineering and Carl Blais, Université Laval
    Partner institutions: CÉGEP de Trois-Rivières, Université Laval, École Polytechnique
  • Searching for neutrino-less double beta decay with nEXO at SNOLAB
    Research team lead: Thomas Brunner, Faculty of Science
    Partner institutions:  Carleton University, University of British Columbia, and Université de Sherbrooke
  • The Child & Youth Trauma Research Incubator (ThRIve)
    Research team lead: Delphine Collin-Vézina, Faculty of Arts
    Partner institutions: McMaster University, Université de Montreal, Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières, University of Calgary, University of Ottawa, University of Regina, University of Toronto
  • Overcoming fundamental challenges in biomedical research through multi-scale electron microscopy
    Research team lead and co-lead: Joaquin Ortega, Faculty of Medicine and Health Science and Pascale Legault, Université de Montréal
    Partner institution: Université de Montréal
  • McGill Translational Platform in Autism Research (MTPAR)
    Research team lead and co-lead: Guy Rouleau and Keith Murai, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, the Research Institute of the McGill University Research Institute, and the Montreal Neurological Institute.
  • At the crossroads between metabolic dysfunction and cancer – the next therapeutic frontier
    Research team lead and co-lead: Peter Siegel and Daniela Quail, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, and the Rosalind & Morris Goodman Cancer Institute
  • Nucleic Acids for Precision Medicine
    Lead and co-Lead: Hanadi Sleiman and Masad Damha, Faculty of Science

Projects on which McGill is a partner:

  • QUantum and Artificial Intelligence Light Infrastructure for Tomorrow’s sYstems (QUALITY)
    Led by l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)
    McGill Investigator: Odile Liboiron-Ladouceur, Faculty of Engineering
  • The HAWC satellite mission: High-altitude Aerosols, Water vapor, and Clouds
    Led by the University of Saskatchewan
    McGill Investigator: Yi Huang, Faculty of Science
  • The Canadian Data Intensive Astrophysics PLatform (CanDIAPL)
    Led by the University of Toronto
    McGill Investigator: Daryl Haggard, Faculty of Science
  • CGEn – Canada’s national platform for genome sequencing and analysis
    Led by the Hospital of Sick Children (SickKids)
    McGill Investigator:  Mark Lathrop, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
  • Mid-Infrared Quantum Sensing and Spectroscopy (MIR-QUEST)
    Led by École Polytechnique
    McGill Investigator: Lilian Childress, Faculty of Science
  • MIXTUROMICS – Demystifying the fate and ecosystem-level impacts of complex contaminant mixtures
    Led by l’Institut national de la recherche scientifique (INRS)
    McGill Co-lead: Nathalie Tufenkji, Faculty of Engineering
  • Écosystème numérique DESIIR (Données environnementales et de santé intégrées pour une infrastructure de recherche)
    Led by l’Université du Québec à Chicoutimi
    McGill Investigator: Yann Joly, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences
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David Brownlee
1 month ago

There appears to be some confusion regarding the above CanDIAPL project. “Candy Apple” is an astrophysics project (https://www.dunlap.utoronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2023/03/Dunlap21-22_AnnualReport_Feb6.pdf). Unless McGill’s FMHS has *really* branched out (like, out of this world), SickKids and Mark Lathrop are more likely involved with the CFI’s CGen project (https://www.cgen.ca/).

Neale Mcdevitt
1 month ago
Reply to  David Brownlee

Thanks, David. We have made the correction